The new Cornwall-Alexandria auxiliary bishop Guy Desrochers, left, with Archbishop Terrence Prendergast at an event in Cornwall in December.
(Alexandria-Cornwall, Canada) – Next Friday, Feb. 22, at St. Finnan Cathedral in Alexandria, before more than 20 bishops from across Canada, I will ordain the Redemptorist priest, Guy Desrochers, as my Auxiliary Bishop.
He will serve as a bishop in the Alexandria-Cornwall diocese — the civic counties of Glengarry and Stormont — and will assist me in bringing that diocese and the Archdiocese of Ottawa into a new episcopal entity.
In preparation, he made a personal retreat to ready himself spiritually. More recently, he has been planning the liturgy and acquiring vestments, a crozier, a mitre and other episcopal accoutrements.
Since the mid-twelfth century, most new bishops have adopted a crest or coat of arms. The bishop-elect chooses elements that hold meaning for him in relation to his ministry and he combines these in a display on a shield.
Bishop-elect Desrochers, a trained graphic artist, had definite ideas for his crest, but he had to adjust these in consultation with the Office of the Chief Herald of Canada.
Here is the symbolism on his coat of arms.
Heraldic tradition places a stylized hat called a “galero” above the shield, shown in green, with six tassels on either side, and, behind the shield, a processional cross.
On the top left, he chose a seashell, which traditionally represents pilgrims. In a special way, it signifies the Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, one of the most important shrines dedicated to Jesus’ grandmother. Bishop-elect Desrochers served there many years among the spiritually and morally wounded of this world. The seashell also represents baptism, the doorway to God’s gift of eternal life.
In the top right corner, we find the initials of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom he regards as the main support of his ministry and his spiritual life. As a preacher, he always included a special night service in his missions, to make Mary better known and loved.
The Bible with the sword on the bottom left of his crest represents his charism to preach the Word of God within the Redemptorist Congregation. He intends to continue this ministry as a bishop.
In the divine realm, the sword represents the Word of God and His omnipotence. It slices through the darkness of ignorance and frees people from the evil powers. It also represents the interior struggle in every person, the battle between the spirit and the flesh, which the spirit must conquer for us to attain heaven.
On the bottom right is the coat of arms of the Redemptorist Congregation to which he has belonged since 1983, an order of preachers founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori to take the abundance of God’s redeeming love to everyone through the proclamation of the Gospel.
Across the entire shield of his crest is a white cross, representing the Resurrection with the Holy Spirit in the centre. Inside the luminous cross, the green colour represents hope and life given through the Cross, and the circle represents the Holy Eucharist.
The red background colour represents the Pentecostal Spirit and the blood of the Saviour that redeems and sanctifies us.
The blue background is attributed to Mary in the Catholic tradition. The colour of the sky represents the heavenly realms to which both the Word made flesh and Jesus’ Blessed Mother convene us.
His motto in Latin — Praedica Verbum — embodies the command “Proclaim the Word.” Since Bishop Desrochers’ conversion in his early twenties, this has been the inner call he received when God inspired him to become a priest.
I invite prayers and good wishes for him as expressed by the common ordination greeting: ad multos annos — may you have many happy years serving God’s people.
Terrence Prendergast is Archbishop of Ottawa and Bishop of Alexandria-Cornwall.